North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park is situated in the northwestern corner of Washington State, along the Canada border. It’s a wonderfully rugged piece of wilderness, half a million acres of meadows, jagged peaks, glaciers, forests and wonder.

The North Cascades National Park does not get a lot of visitors, by National Park standards. That’s due in part, to the fact that the park is not on the way somewhere, unless you’re circumnavigating the US border! It’s a 3 hour drive, north from Seattle. In short, it’s an out of the way place. If you got there, its because you meant to!

Which is all fine with me. Less people means more solitude.

The park is bisected by the North Cascades Highway into two units. The North Unit is more remote than its southern sister. There are fewer trails.

The legendary Picket Range is here. Peaks like Mount Terror, Mount Despair and Mt Challenger tower over the deep, wet valleys filled with nasty things like Devils Club.

Trail access from the west side is via Hannegan Pass. Heading east from the town of Glacier on SR 542 (Mt Baker Hwy) for 13 miles there is a well marked turn off for the Hannegan Pass trailhead.

All sorts of important info about permits to camp overnight in the park, can be found here

Its about 4 miles to the pass, and from there you can do a short easy scramble to the top of Hannegan Peak, or a more involved climb of Ruth Mountain.

Just down the east side from the pass you enter the National Park. There is a campsite, Boundary Camp, and a trail junction. You can ascend Copper Ridge to Silesia Camp and Egg Lake, or follow the main trail down the Chilliwack River (there is a spot where you pull yourself over a chasm in a cable car) to a junction where you meet a turn off for the trail to Whatcom Pass.

This is one of the more remote parts of the park. The views of Mt Challenger and its namesake glacier are mind blowing. I have visited twice, the first visit was magnificent, and the most recent a total white out of gray.

From Whatcom Pass you can retrace your steps back to the car, or you can continue your trip east, and hike down along Little Beaver Creek to the shores of Ross Lake and take a water taxi to Ross Lake Resort,  or hike out via Beaver Pass.

A longer and more spectacular trip is to take the turn off for Copper Ridge. This is one of the few ridge hikes in the park, affording breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and host of other peaks. There are several camp site along Copper Ridge, Silesia Camp has the best views anywhere, and Copper Lake is a wonderful place to camp along the route.

The trail loops down the Chilliwack River, which you ford just south of the Canada border.

In early August expect to be wading through a river filled with salmon. It is quite a sight. From there its an easy hike to the junction with the Whatcom Pass Trail, and so you can make a loop out of the trek.

 

The Southern Unit has many more access points along Highway 20, Ross Lake to the east and Lake Chelan to the south. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through on its way to Canada.

In the next two posts we will visit some of the most spectacular areas in the lower section of the park.

Here is an image of Mount Logan from the North Fork Bridge Creek.

Mount Logan, North Cascades National Park

Sauk Mountain Wildflowers

Sauk Mountain Wildflowers start blooming in July. Exactly when in July varies from year to year depending upon how much snow accumulated from the winter and how warm the spring.

Getting there is easy.

As soon as you leave the parking lot the trail is fringed with flowers. The first long, easy switch backs afford views out along the river and up, following the zig zag of trail to the top.

Along the way views of Mount Baker appear.

Rounding the shoulder of the mountain Sauk Lake comes into view and a trail leading to its shores. Lilies, Columbine, Lupine and more carpet the meadows.

I try to get up there several times each year. These images are from an overnight visit in July 2017.

Day Hike and Overnight Photo Tours are available here!

Waiting for sunset is  pleasure. The warm glow of late afternoon light envelops us.

The next morning’s light invites us to linger a while.

North Cascades Sunrise Photo Tour

Here is a link to a recent article and images from Photo Tours to Washington Pass this year.

Sunrise Photo Tour

Imaging Tulips

Once you’ve been out to take pictures of the tulips as many times as I have you start to get a bit bored with the standard images of rows of flowers and the usual shots. Skagit Valley Tulips

I have tried to find some different elements to add to the image, something in the foreground maybe to create a bit of the different look and feel.

Water and reflections do the trick nicely, accenting the colors and maybe the sky.

Are you interested in a Tulip Photo Tour? Here is the link for the details!

Living so close by affords more opportunity to visit often, and so I can make it there for sunrises and sunsets easily. Nothing adds more to a tulip shot than an dramatic sky!

Finding interesting foreground elements is based on where the tulips are each year. Every new year the crops are rotated. Some years they are near a barn, others a grove of trees…

This year (2016) is more difficult, the only interesting foreground element was a school bus. These are from sunrise on March 30.

Including people in the images is also an option, one I tend to avoid, but often with good results.

The two (so far) elusive shots I dream of are: a huge, gob-smacking rainbow over the tulips, and as unlikely as it may be, lightning firing above the fields. One can always hope!

Skagit Valley Tulip and Daffodil Photo Tours

Skagit Valley Tulip and Daffodil Festival Photo Tours

Daffodil Photo Tours start next week, Feb 21! Here is the link with the details!

Every spring the fields of the Skagit Valley explode with colors.

First the daffodils arrive, spilling yellow and green paint buckets over the browns and grays left over from winter.

Depending upon the weather this happens any where between late February and early March. In 2015 we had full fields of daffodils abloom in the third week of Feb. and it looks like we may see the same this year.

Skagit Valley Tulip and Daffodil Photo Tours get info on registering here.
Tulips arrive 3 to 4 weeks later, anywhere from mid to late March into April. fields upon fields of tulips of all shapes and colors spread across the valley their quilt like pattern changing each year with the annual field rotations.

The valleys main tulip grower, Roozengaarde updates their Bloom Map each day or so, showing where the fields are and when they are in bloom.

What is a Photo Tour? A Photo Tour is a guided tour specifically for anyone who would like to capture stunning images. Each sprint I spend time reconnoitering the fields, noting where are the best views and backdrops. I can offer advice for not only the best locations but also tips on exposure and composition as well as post editing so that you come away with fantastic images.

I also offer North Cascades Photo Tours and Night Sky Imaging Photo Tours as well.

500th Post

January 2009 is when I began this blog.

Time is an illusory creature. 7 years ago seems like yesterday and a different lifetime, all at once.

During that span I have posted stories of hitchhiking, near death experiences and other adventures. 

I have posted travel reports and given advice.

But mostly I have posted pictures. Lots of pictures!

Images of the Mountains,

 

Images of Tulip Fields,

 

Pictures of Ocean,

 

and pictures of Night.

 

I hope you have enjoyed looking as much as I have enjoyed sharing.

Thank you all.

I’ll be seeing you soon!

Stars, Tent and Kids

Here is another shot from the other night along the Baker River.

Camped under the Milky Way 3

Camped under the Milky Way 3

I had in my mind several images, planning and scheming as we hiked in, having the kids in the tent illuminated with the I-Pad, having them look out of the tent, in awe at the stars.

Here is the i-pad shot. Not too bad! A little overexposed on the face of the kid (Dawson) holding the device.

Then I tried an image with them looking out of the tent. I used the red light function on my head lamp to illuminate their faces and this is what I got:

IMG_8179At first I didn’t even try to edit it, it looked so red.

But later I decided to give it a try. I edited (in photoshop, as a raw file) the foreground, then went back and edited the raw a second time, but edited just the sky.

Then I merged the two and did final editing.

That’s Joe on the left, wrapped in the sleeping bag. And my son, Max is the incredulous one on the right!

Not too bad!

I guess I’ll have to take the kids camping more often!

Looking at the stars

Looking at the stars